Ever since making a commitment to set up my own non-profit focusing on wellbeing, there has been one project that has been sitting on the shelf gathering dust.
When I set up the charity it was about taking my personal journey from suffering to recovery and moulding that experience into something that would help others. But there was always something missing.
Whilst depression, anxiety, chronic pain and injury have been part of my life, a part which I've drawn so much from and shared with others there is a significant part of my life I've not yet been able to take and share with others in a way that helps their lives.
I am a Gay man. This isn't me finally coming out of the closet, that happened years ago, and I even burnt that closet so no one could ever push me back in haha.
This is what has been sitting on the shelf for so long though. I wanted to do what I'm doing now but focusing on Gay men, particularly those at risk of mental health problems and suicide. There's more to it though, as an 17 year old who suddenly realised that I was attracted to men there came with it a very much permanent feeling of dread, fear and deep anxiety about whether I would be accepted, and already having mental health problems I was slung into the worst depression I'd ever experienced and having strong suicidal tendencies already, my first suicide attempt being at the age of 7, this was all made worse. I still wish that I'd had any kind of help and support available, but thankfully a couple of years later after being beaten up, physically, mentally and verbally abused I found that help.
What I drew from that experience is that my experience is not unique to me. I'm not equipped with the skills to help tackle wider LGBT issues, but I know that I have the skills to help those Gay men who may be feeling worried, anxious and depressed and even suicidal like I was. For the longest time I'd been waiting for an opportunity to get this project off the shelf and do something with it.
Just a couple of weeks ago I heard back from NHS Lancashire and South Cumbria saying that they had awarded Go Get You with a small amount of funding to try out a project which helps Gay men at risk of mental health problems and suicide to find an alternative way of coping through exercise and meditation. It was an amazing day when I got that news, after nearly 7 years I can now deliver a project which truly reflects my experiences and my recovery and acceptance.
BroFlow brings Gay and Bisexual men together in a safe environment and helps them learn acceptance and self-compassion through the art, movement and meditation practices of Ko-Do.
The classes are delivered 2 times a week, once in Bispham and once in Marton. Further details to be announced.